According to recent reports, a newly developed drug has been found effective in reducing fat in individuals suffering from fatty liver disease. The drug has been found to reduce fat by up to 65%.
A new treatment for an advanced form of fatty liver disease has shown promise in treating NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), a serious condition that affects 2-5% of people in the US. NASH is characterized by a buildup of excess fat in the liver, leading to chronic inflammation and liver damage, and is often linked to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome.
Semaglutide, a drug used to treat obesity and diabetes, is a GLP-1 agonist that some researchers believe can treat NASH. However, a small study by biotech company Akero Therapeutics suggests that semaglutide alone may not be able to treat NASH. Instead, it seems to work better when combined with efruxifermin (EFX), Akero’s in-development NASH treatment.
The combination of semaglutide and EFX appears to be safe and compatible with other drugs used to treat obesity, diabetes, and related health issues. The findings of this study offer hope for those suffering from NASH, a condition that can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and cancer if left untreated. While improved diet and increased exercise can slow or even reverse the progression of NASH, there is currently no approved medical treatment for this condition.
Akero conducted a 12-week study on 31 patients with type 2 diabetes and liver scarring caused by NASH. All participants were already taking a GLP-1 drug for their diabetes or obesity. During the study, 21 patients were given EFX while the remaining 10 were given a placebo.
At the end of the study, it was found that patients who took EFX had an average reduction in liver fat of 65% as compared to when they started. Additionally, 88% of this group achieved normal levels of liver fat. In contrast, the placebo group experienced an average reduction of just 10% in liver fat, and only 10% of the participants achieved normal liver fat levels after the 12 weeks.
The combination NASH treatment was well-tolerated, with mild gastrointestinal issues being the most common side effect. While one participant dropped out of the study due to nausea, no serious drug-related adverse events were reported. According to Tim Rolph, Akero’s co-founder and CSO, GLP-1 is likely to be widely used in this population, even without a formal NASH label. Therefore, being compatible and providing additional value specific to NASH on top of existing therapies will enable the treatment to be successful.
It is important to note that the study conducted was relatively small. Hence, more research needs to be done to determine whether EFX is an effective treatment for NASH, with or without the addition of a GLP-1 drug. Akero is planning to release the results of a larger Phase 2B trial of EFX by the end of 2023, and it is also aiming to launch two Phase 3 trials of the drug this year.